Moby-Dick By Herman Melville Chapters 37-40

Chapter 40

Midnight, Forecastle.

HARPOONEERS AND SAILORS.

(FORESAIL RISES AND DISCOVERS THE WATCH STANDING, LOUNGING, LEANING, AND LYING IN VARIOUS ATTITUDES, ALL SINGING IN CHORUS.)

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies! Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain! Our captain's commanded. —

1ST NANTUCKET SAILOR. Oh, boys, don't be sentimental; it's bad for the digestion! Take a tonic, follow me! (SINGS, AND ALL FOLLOW)

Our captain stood upon the deck, A spy-glass in his hand, A viewing of those gallant whales That blew at every strand. Oh, your tubs in your boats, my boys, And by your braces stand, And we'll have one of those fine whales, Hand, boys, over hand! So, be cheery, my lads! may your hearts never fail! While the bold harpooner is striking the whale!

MATE'S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER-DECK. Eight bells there, forward!

2ND NANTUCKET SAILOR. Avast the chorus! Eight bells there! d'ye hear, bell-boy? Strike the bell eight, thou Pip! thou blackling! and let me call the watch. I've the sort of mouth for that — the hogshead mouth. So, so, (THRUSTS HIS HEAD DOWN THE SCUTTLE,) Star-bo-l-e-e-n-s, a-h-o-y! Eight bells there below! Tumble up!

DUTCH SAILOR. Grand snoozing to-night, maty; fat night for that. I mark this in our old Mogul's wine; it's quite as deadening to some as filliping to others. We sing; they sleep — aye, lie down there, like ground-tier butts. At 'em again! There, take this copper-pump, and hail 'em through it. Tell 'em to avast dreaming of their lasses. Tell 'em it's the resurrection; they must kiss their last, and come to judgment. That's the way — THAT'S it; thy throat ain't spoiled with eating Amsterdam butter.

FRENCH SAILOR. Hist, boys! let's have a jig or two before we ride to anchor in Blanket Bay. What say ye? There comes the other watch. Stand by all legs! Pip! little Pip! hurrah with your tambourine!

PIP. (SULKY AND SLEEPY) Don't know where it is.

FRENCH SAILOR. Beat thy belly, then, and wag thy ears. Jig it, men, I say; merry's the word; hurrah! Damn me, won't you dance? Form, now, Indian-file, and gallop into the double-shuffle? Throw yourselves! Legs! legs!

ICELAND SAILOR. I don't like your floor, maty; it's too springy to my taste. I'm used to ice-floors. I'm sorry to throw cold water on the subject; but excuse me.

MALTESE SAILOR. Me too; where's your girls? Who but a fool would take his left hand by his right, and say to himself, how d'ye do? Partners! I must have partners!

SICILIAN SAILOR. Aye; girls and a green! — then I'll hop with ye; yea, turn grasshopper!

LONG-ISLAND SAILOR. Well, well, ye sulkies, there's plenty more of us. Hoe corn when you may, say I. All legs go to harvest soon. Ah! here comes the music; now for it!

AZORE SAILOR. (ASCENDING, AND PITCHING THE TAMBOURINE UP THE SCUTTLE.) Here you are, Pip; and there's the windlass-bitts; up you mount! Now, boys! (THE HALF OF THEM DANCE TO THE TAMBOURINE; SOME GO BELOW; SOME SLEEP OR LIE AMONG THE COILS OF RIGGING. OATHS A-PLENTY.)

AZORE SAILOR. (DANCING) Go it, Pip! Bang it, bell-boy! Rig it, dig it, stig it, quig it, bell-boy! Make fire-flies; break the jinglers!

PIP. Jinglers, you say? — there goes another, dropped off; I pound it so.

CHINA SAILOR. Rattle thy teeth, then, and pound away; make a pagoda of thyself.

FRENCH SAILOR. Merry-mad! Hold up thy hoop, Pip, till I jump through it! Split jibs! tear yourselves!

TASHTEGO. (QUIETLY SMOKING) That's a white man; he calls that fun: humph! I save my sweat.

OLD MANX SAILOR. I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what they are dancing over. I'll dance over your grave, I will — that's the bitterest threat of your night-women, that beat head-winds round corners. O Christ! to think of the green navies and the green-skulled crews! Well, well; belike the whole world's a ball, as you scholars have it; and so 'tis right to make one ballroom of it. Dance on, lads, you're young; I was once.

3D NANTUCKET SAILOR. Spell oh! — whew! this is worse than pulling after whales in a calm — give us a whiff, Tash.

(THEY CEASE DANCING, AND GATHER IN CLUSTERS. MEANTIME THE SKY DARKENS — THE WIND RISES.)

LASCAR SAILOR. By Brahma! boys, it'll be douse sail soon. The sky-born, high-tide Ganges turned to wind! Thou showest thy black brow, Seeva!

MALTESE SAILOR. (RECLINING AND SHAKING HIS CAP.) It's the waves — the snow's caps turn to jig it now. They'll shake their tassels soon. Now would all the waves were women, then I'd go drown, and chassee with them evermore! There's naught so sweet on earth — heaven may not match it! — as those swift glances of warm, wild bosoms in the dance, when the over-arboring arms hide such ripe, bursting grapes.

SICILIAN SAILOR. (RECLINING.) Tell me not of it! Hark ye, lad — fleet interlacings of the limbs — lithe swayings — coyings — flutterings! lip! heart! hip! all graze: unceasing touch and go! not taste, observe ye, else come satiety. Eh, Pagan? (NUDGING.)

TAHITAN SAILOR. (RECLINING ON A MAT.) Hail, holy nakedness of our dancing girls! — the Heeva-Heeva! Ah! low veiled, high palmed Tahiti! I still rest me on thy mat, but the soft soil has slid! I saw thee woven in the wood, my mat! green the first day I brought ye thence; now worn and wilted quite. Ah me! — not thou nor I can bear the change! How then, if so be transplanted to yon sky? Hear I the roaring streams from Pirohitee's peak of spears, when they leap down the crags and drown the villages? — The blast! the blast! Up, spine, and meet it! (LEAPS TO HIS FEET.)

PORTUGUESE SAILOR. How the sea rolls swashing 'gainst the side! Stand by for reefing, hearties! the winds are just crossing swords, pell-mell they'll go lunging presently.

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